During this process, the surgeon removes the epithelium (the extremely thin outer layer) of the cornea using an alcohol solution, a buffing device or a blunt surgical instrument (as compared to creating a thicker corneal flap as in LASIK.) Subsequently, the underlying corneal stroma is then reshaped with an excimer laser (same as it is during LASIK). After the laser treatment is finished, a bandage contact lens inserted to protect and secure the epithelium in place as it heals. A new epithelial layer usually grows back within five days.
The optimal treatment will depend on the characteristics of each patient’s eyes & this will be determined during the pre-LASIK assessment.As compared to LASIK, Epi-LASIK causes more discomfort and has slower visual recovery. However, it is a good treatment option for select patients. At Lee Hung Ming Eye Centre, we usually use this method to treat patients with thin corneas or boxing/mixed martial arts enthusiasts. Read more about the differences between LASIK and Epi-LASIK here